Tuesday 9 October 2018

VIFF 2018 Mini-reviews #1

Alexander, Chris and William are at the 37th Vancouver International Film Festival, running September 27 to October 12. We bring you some mid-festival mini-reviews for Mouthpiece, Quiet Killing, Dawnland and Virus Tropical. We'll have our post-festival podcast episode for you later.


In Mouthpiece, director Patricia Rozema tackles grief in a manner I’ve not seen on screen before. Cassandra’s re-examination of her relationship with her mother is manifest as raw introspection in the performances by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava (co-adapting their play with Rozema) playing the protagonist’s dual psyches. The film convincingly lives in that limbo period during the processing of a loved one’s death when the deception of intellectual clarity protects against unbridled emotions. Charting Cassandra’s struggle to prepare the eulogy for her mother, the film is also a convincing depiction of the writing process complete with extended procrastination. It’s a masterful film that is aggressively local in its storytelling—from recognizable Toronto settings to books that furnish characters’ spaces the frame is stocked with recognizably Canadian references—and by employing talented women in all principle cast and crew positions it is pointedly feminist in its filmmaking. [WL]

Quiet Killing

Quiet Killing explores the systemic racism and ambivalence that allows between 1 and 4 thousand Indigenous women to go missing or be murdered in Canada. The people we meet in the film have not just endured the loss of a mother, sister, cousin, grandmother or aunt, they’re also victims of the generational violence fostered by the Residential school system. Powerful, heartbreaking and inspiring. [CS]


Ben and Adam Mazo's Dawnland is a documentary that follows the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Maine as they listen to testimonies from five Wabanaki nations. These testimonies will contribute to a report about the effects of Residential schools and a government system that removed and continues to remove Indigenous children from their families. It’s an incredibly vital documentary that encourages all of us to bear witness and participate in the Truth and Reconciliation process.[CS]

Virus Tropical

I am always intrigued by animated films that take the real world as their subject. Why animate something when it would be feasible to create in a live action setting? This question was in the back of my mind throughout most of Virus Tropical, Santiago Caicedo’s adaptation of a popular Colombian graphic novel. In the end, I found the film to be unsatisfying in its portrayal of a youth in turmoil. [AC]

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